I do not attempt to claim ownership of Marvel Comics or the Harry Potter series.
Forged in Fire
'How Do We Sleep When Our Beds are Burning?'
Leaky Cauldron / 31.07.2008
Harry Potter was no ordinary thirteen year-old.
After all, how many thirteen year-olds would spend the early hours of their birthday pouring over books of spells and potions hungrily, desperately searching for answers?
Harry squinted, his eyes stinging with tiredness, as he tore through page after page, searching for the answer.
"Damn it," sighed Harry, closing '328 Uses of Phoenix Tears' carefully, he did not want to deal with the hassle of waking other patrons.
At least he didn't have to deal with the Dursleys' shit anymore.
Harry raised a hand, flexing it, before a ball of orange flames suddenly sprung from it, hovering an inch above his palm, unaffected by the blistering heat.
Ever since that day, the day he'd gone down into that Chamber, the day he'd fought Voldemort, and won, again.
Ever since the day he should have died.
The Basilisk venom that almost killed him, and the Phoenix tears that saved him.
Harry closed his hand into a fist, extinguishing the ball of flames.
If he thought his life was crazy before, it had only got worse when he woke up the day after the Chamber incident.
Like his body was freezing and burning at the same time.
When the pain had finally subsided, Harry had found his body changed, he was stronger, faster, his stamina was vastly improved.
However, the most alarming changes were his new ability to summon flames without his wand, and that all his injuries were completely healed, barring any scars from before the Chamber incident.
After that he'd torn through the library with fervor that made Hermione proud, looking for answers.
But none had come, not even when he'd
recruited Hermione and a very reluctant Ron into helping. However, he'd managed to convince Madam Prince into letting him take a small library's worth of books home with him.
As for what had happened after he returned to the Dursley, the less said about it the better.
Despite all that Harry still hadn't found the true answer, but he had made some progress.
One of the reasons Basilisk venom was so deadly was that when Herpo the Foul had bred the first Basilisk he'd enchanted the species so that its venom perpetually remained in the victim's body, making any antidotes useless.
On the other hand Phoenix tears self-regenerated until all injuries were healed, thus meaning that both the Basilisk venom and Phoenix tears were still in his body, fighting for dominance.
Harry had even gone as far as to deliberately cut his palm to test if this was the case, the Phoenix tears healing the wound almost instantly. This, however, still didn't explain why his body had changed and he could summon flames at will.
At least one good effect of all the reading was all the new factoids he now knew, like the fact male basilisks could generate ice, making him glad at the one he'd faced had been female, and that Phoenix tears were the key ingredient in an addiction curing potion, and one that cured erectile dysfunction.
No wonder Dumbledore was always so cheerful.
A smashing sound suddenly echoed from outside his door.
Harry jumped out his seat, grabbing his wand and slowly creeping towards the door.
Carefully, Harry pushed it open, to be greeted by a red light, and then his world went black.
Afghanistan / 13.02.2009
He was going to die.
He never thought his life would end this way, the great Tony Stark forced to build arms for terrorists and then to be disposed of. To be honest he'd always imagined his death at a very old age after pleasing two beautiful models, perhaps even three.
"They'll never find you in these mountains."
Tony looked up from the fire, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, at the man who saved his life, the one he'd met at that conference in Bern at the turn of the millennium, so he'd been told.
"That's comforting," quipped Tony morosely.
"What you just saw, that's your legacy, Stark," continued the doctor, sitting down at the fire as well, "your life's work the hands, of those murderers, is that how you want to be remembered?"
Jumping up at the sound of the door opening, Tony looked up. Surely they couldn't expect results that fast, it had only been an hour since the leader demanded he built the Jericho missile.
"Stay back," muttered the doctor, indicating for Tony to step back from the door.
Backing away, Tony watched at the metal cell door swung open, allowing two of their captors to enter, carrying the broken and beaten form of a teenager between them.
Dropping the teen on a camp bed, the two terrorists left the cell, locking the door behind them. Kneeling down, the doctor set to work, cleaning the blood from the teen, revealing the true severity of his injuries.
Tony wanted to be sick, the boy couldn't be more than about fourteen. Nearly every part of him was injured, a large cut running from his forehead to his chin had gouged through his left eye, both his legs appeared to be broken and he was missing several fingers and toes.
"Oh god," muttered Tony, feeling a fire light inside of him, "they're monsters."
"Don't worry, he'll be fine," assured the doctor as he set one of the boy's legs.
"What do mean, fine?" retorted Tony, "I'm not a doctor but he looks like he's gone through a meat grinder."
"They do this to him every week, I just have to make sure I set any broken bones before he heals," replied the doctor, finishing setting the boy's other leg.
Tony opened his mouth to reply be stopped short as he watched as the boy's injuries begin to heal at an incredible rate. Tony stared as the slash on the boy's face healed completely, his legs repaired themselves with a series of sickening snaps and his missing fingers and toes grew back.
"Impossible," breathed Tony.
"He's enhanced," spoke the doctor, "if I had to guess I'd say a modified version of the super soldier serum."
"What's his name?" asked Tony, watching as the boy finished healing, but stayed lying flat on his back, his unfocused eyes pointing at the ceiling.
"I don't know, he's never said a word," answered the doctor, "they broke him long before they took me, I call him Khalid, it's means-"
"Eternal," finished Tony.
"I didn't think you knew Arabic," stated the doctor.
"I don't, I did a semester on it in college to impress a girl," explained Tony, "pretty much all I remember is that and the Arabic for 'I didn't sleep with your wife'."
"So, why are you here?" queried Tony, "why did they take you?"
"I'm a doctor of biochemistry," responded the doctor, "I was taken to create a super soldier serum from Khalid's blood, and as a translator."
"I'm guessing so far it hasn't worked," muttered Tony.
"No, the last attempt killed the one who took it," replied the doctor, "they seem to think Khalid knows the secret behind how to make the serum work."
"That's why they're torturing him," stated Tony.
"Correct," affirmed the doctor, "either that or the fact that they just enjoy it."
Tony looked down at the unconscious kid, tortured so those terrorists could build a new weapon.
He couldn't help, he couldn't help but feel maybe he wasn't so different from those terrorists, albeit far more hands off. How many innocent people were injured or died because he'd decided to build a new weapon.
A more efficient killing machine.
"I going to stop them, I promise," spoke Tony, feeling his resolve building.
How many children had lost their parents because of his weapons? How many children had died and suffered because of him?
Was he no better than those terrorists.
Tony nodded his head, "looks like we've got a lot of work to do, Dr…"
"Yinsen, Dr. Ho Yinsen," replied the doctor, "And don't bother with the joke about never meeting a man named Ho, I've heard it before."
"Whoever did tell that joke's pretty funny," replied Tony, turning back to face the cache of weapons and missiles the terrorist had dumped in their cave.
"I was you."
Tony smiled, "Damn, I'm good."
4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging / 29.06.2008
Glaring at the retreating forms of his aunt and uncle, Harry grabbed his heavy trunk and lifted it out of the car. Reaching back in, Harry grabbed Hedwig's cage, the snowy owl asleep inside.
"Come on, this might be the last time you get to stretch your wings before we go back to Hogwarts," spoke Harry, unlocking the cage, rousing his owl.
Hedwig gave Harry a sleepy glare but hopped out of her cage and took flight. Harry sighed, he was scared, when he'd left the Dursleys' house last summer it had come after weeks of being locked in his room with bars on the window and involved a flying Ford Anglia.
It almost made him want to fight the Basilisk again, almost.
"Hurry up, boy!" barked Vernon from the front door of Number 4 Privet Drive.
"Coming Uncle Vernon," replied Harry, shutting the car boot and dragging his trunk to the door.
"In quick!" ordered Vernon, "Trunk under the stairs, keep the cage!"
Following instructions Harry deposited the trunk on his old bed in the cupboard under the stairs and shut the door.
"In here," snapped Vernon, indicating to the lounge as he locked the cupboard door, "And leave the cage here for now."
Putting the cage down and walking into the lounge, Harry took a seat on the sofa, while Vernon shut the door and dropped into his armchair.
"You're lucky we agreed to take you back after that stunt last summer," grumbled Vernon, "But this year I'm going to lay down some ground rules, understood?"
"Understood," responded Harry.
"Good, now your aunt will write out a list of chores for you, if she asks you to do anything, you do it," explained Vernon, "Now, in return, your owl can come and go, at night only, and keep your friends updated that you're fine. And if you behave yourself we'll allow some books out of your trunk to keep on your room only, so you can do your homework, got it?"
Pushing the urge to make a sarcastic remark down Harry replied, "Yes, sir."
"Now it's time for your punishment," spoke Vernon, picking up Dudley's Smeltings stick from the coffee table, "Hand out!"
Calming himself, Harry slowly raised his left hand and held it out.
"Good," smiled Vernon, his eyes glinting manically, "Let's begin."
Flinching as the cane came down, Harry bit his tongue to stop himself from shouting as it dug into the palm of his hand over and over.
After what felt like an eternity Vernon stopped, "Now wasn't that ea-"
Opening his eyes, Harry quickly in the sight of his Uncle's rapidly purpling face. Looking down at his hand, Harry's mouth fell open, the wound from the cane was nearly completely healed.
"You freak, you dare use magic in my home!" yelled Vernon, standing and grabbing Harry's throat, lifting him up, "I'll give you something you won't heal!"
Wheezing, Harry watched from his increasingly blurry vision as his aunt slammed the door open, screaming at his uncle to let him go.
Gathering the last of his strength, Harry lashed out with his foot. Screaming, Vernon dropped Harry as he collapsed to the floor, cradling his crotch.
Storming past his aunt, Harry ripped the understairs cupboard door open, easily breaking the lock and grabbing his trunk. Dragging it behind him, Harry marched towards the door when Vernon stormed out of the lounge, barring Harry's way, his face pulsing purple.
"I'm going to show you your proper place, you freak!" spat Vernon, "In a grave with your filthy parents."
Harry eyes lit up with fire, "I was willing leave without hurting you, but then you had to go and insult my parents."
Holding up a hand, orange flames coated it before Harry charged at Vernon, slamming his open palm against his chest.
Vernon collapsed onto his back, screaming in agony as his skin sizzled.
Harry looked down at his uncle, the burn mark perfectly resembling a phoenix with its wings unfurled.
"Burn in hell," sneered Harry, planting his foot square on the burn as he stepped over Vernon, banging his trunk over him as well.
"They'll never let you go back," spat Petunia from the sidelines, "You've done your freak stuff again, they'll snap your stick!"
Harry turned back to face Petunia, smiling, "Their detection charm recognises a spell based on intent, it ignores accidental magic, it lacks intent."
Flames danced across Harry's palm, "This, this is pure instinct."
Slamming the front door open, Harry marched out, catching sight of Dudley returning home, looking confused, nothing unusual there.
Harry's hand spiked with roaring flames, "Try anything and I roast you like the pig you are!"
With a gasp Khalid woke, sitting bolt upright, gasping and covered in sweat.
Looking around, Khalid saw Stark sat at the fire, fiddling with some machine.
Glaring, Khalid swung his feet over the edge of the bed, staring at the ground.
"Those scars you've got," spoke Tony, "They're from before you got your powers, aren't they."
Khalid looked down and continued to ignore the man.
"Who was it?" queried Tony, "Who abused you?"
"I know what those kind of scars look like," continued Tony, "I see them in the mirror every morning."
Walking over, Tony sat on the camp bed next to Khalid.
"When I was kid my parents barely had any time for me, our butler, Jarvis, practically raised me," explained Tony, "He died when I was 8, cancer, so my parents hired a new butler."
"He was nice at first, he gained my trust," spoke Tony, "But then he turned nasty, he'd hit me for nothing and convince me I deserved it. It went on for years, he left one day and never came back, got bored I guess."
Tony sighed and fell into a calm silence, the only sound was Yinsen's light snoring.
"Pardon," blurted Tony, turning to face Khalid, in the two weeks he'd been here the teen hadn't said a single word.
"My name's Harry," muttered the teen, with the voice that clearly hadn't been used in a while.
"Pleased to meet you, Harry," replied Tony, smiling.
Malfoy Retreat, Southern France, 17.08.2008
Abraxas Malfoy wheezed and coughed, blood leaking out of the corner of his mouth.
"Is Master Abraxas okay?" questioned a male house-elf as he stood at the side of the bed.
"I am dying of Dragon Pox," groused Abraxas, "So, bloody brilliant."
The house-elf wringed his hands, "Is Master Abraxas being sarcastic?"
"Take a sodding guess," snapped Abraxas.
Abraxas cursed his luck, deposed as the head of the Malfoy Family, his blasted son taking the Malfoy wand, banished to land of the fucking frogs and dying from a disease most kids could shake in a week.
After Lucius had discovered the role Abraxas had played during the last Wizarding War, Abraxas had suddenly developed Dragon Pox and been shipped of the Malfoy chateau to rot.
That had been nearly three years ago, Lucius had made it clear he expected him to die here.
"Yet I live," chuckled Abraxas, while he was still alive Lucius could not assume full Headship, only as a proxy.
Abraxas coughed again, spraying his handkerchief with blood.
He was still alive, but not for long.
He had hours, days at the absolute most.
A loud tapping echoed on the window, Abraxas' eyes moving to see a burned russet Screech Owl, a letter tried to its leg.
Abraxas frowned, "Impossible."
"Is Master Abraxas wishing for Luxin to let the owl in?" asked the house-elf.
Luxin darted over to the window, opening it wide, the owl swooping inside, performing a lap around the room, before landing on the bedpost beside Abraxas.
Fumbling with the twine, Abraxas cursed his lack of a wand and his weakened grip, before he managed to free the letter.
Taking a moment to examine the seal on the back, gold wax with the symbol of a Phoenix marked into it, Abraxas tore it open, pulling the letter out and quickly beginning to read it.
Abraxas' face showed a rollercoaster of emotions, shifting from one to the next, before he dropped the letter to his lap.
"My dear, you have outdone yourself."
Here it is, as a new story, which was the overwhelming consensus both in the reviews and in the poll. Hope you enjoy.